Mercedes-Benz introduces the next-generation GLA
16 December 2019
While the majority of the preowned examples we sell as Mercedes-Benz specialists are typically larger models such as the CLS, S-Class and GLE along with a regular supply of fierier AMG variants like the C63 and S63, Leama Specialist Cars’ business and personal leasing arm has, like most other contract hire brokers, seen the compact GLA crossover SUV become one of the most popular smaller models produced in the prestige German brand’s history. On sale since the start of 2014 here in the UK, it’s little wonder that the Mercedes GLA has attained such unabated success, blending elegance and relative luxury with a practical hatchback silhouette and that must-have elevated driving position; but recent years have seen the Audi Q2, BMW X2, Volvo XC40 and other similar alternatives introduced, so we welcomed Mercedes’ news that the all-new GLA will be available to order from this coming spring.
It’s no surprise that the exterior styling of the all-new, next-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA compact crossover strongly resembles the new A-Class plus the latest GLC and GLE incarnations, along with some design cues from the GLB that recently received its debut, bringing it in line with the rest of the family. The marque’s three-pointed star and single louvre sit in the middle of a commensurately taller grille flanked by slightly rounder and deeper headlights incorporating a distinct signature to set them apart from the A-Class, but the curvaceous roofline silhouette is similar to the hatchback, while the rear follows its larger SUV siblings, complete with their trapezoid-and-triangle rear light signatures pairings.
More muscular and expensive-looking than the original model, the new GLA is also truer to the SUV strand of its SUV in that it appears noticeably loftier thanks to a 10cm height increase, but it’s curiously 1.5cm shorter, defying the general trend for all next-gen cars to grow considerably. The efficiencies Mercedes has managed to eke out in engineering the new GLA will make it a more suitable proposition than its admittedly somewhat restricted predecessor, the 2020 version providing more front headroom and tangibly impressive extra legroom in the back, while the design of the rear light clusters has allowed the boot compartment opening to be widened, total capacity now 435 litres. Even the car’s body-shape is more aerodynamic, meaning improved fuel economy and reduced noise, and chunky bumpers and protective cladding finish the package off nicely.
MBUX, Mercedes’ latest, cutting-edge infotainment system, comes as standard no matter whether the new GLA is specified with two 7” displays, a 7” and a 10.25” or a pair of 10.25” screens for the full, glorious experience. The new optical “cut-outs” are set to look special as part of an interior that elevates the GLA to a new level in high quality, with available options unsurprisingly including a head-up display in full colour, the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant, and sat nav boasting augmented reality technology. It’s the first model following the GLS to benefit from the marque’s car wash function that closes the windows and sunroof, folds the wing mirrors in and deactivates the windscreen wipers at the touch of a button.
Cars are continuously becoming safer and the new Mercedes-Benz GLA’s Driving Assistance Package now includes a ‘gliding’ function in ECO mode, automatically reduces speed when approaching roundabouts and similar situations, and provides a warning when the car detects a pedestrian near a zebra crossing. Specifying 4MATIC sees the Off-Road Engineering Package added by default, with a unique off-road cornering light function for illuminating obstacles in the dark, an extra driving mode called DYNAMIC SELECT, the ability to view an on-screen representation of the car’s physical stance and of surrounding terrain, plus finer control of Downhill Speed Regulation.
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) power will be added to the new GLA’s engine lineup in due course and so will diesel, Mercedes impressively being one of a small number of manufacturers to develop 4% BIK-exempt and RDE2-compliant engines, but the all-new version will initially be specifiable in one of two polarised petrol tunes. At one end of the spectrum there’s the GLA 200, producing 161bhp from its 1.3-litre unit, helped by a 7G-DCT automatic gearbox, while the spicier newcomer is the GLA 35 4MATIC AMG underpinned by a turbocharged 306bhp engine and AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8G transmission. The main area of unique visual excitement is the AMG-specific, vertically-barred grille, while on the inside MBUX incorporates a lap-timer called AMG TRACK PACE.
It’s a given that the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA will prove an instant hit in the prestige car leasing sector, with cherished examples undoubtedly appearing in Leama Specialist Cars’ forthcoming used Mercedes showroom stocklists in coming years.